Child Custody Laws in Florida: Determination and Modification

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Child custody laws in Florida consider what is in the best interests of the child in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.  The Florida court has jurisdiction to determine who gets custody, visitation and support if the parties are unable to resolve the issues on their own.  Florida’s public policy is to make sure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the legal separation or dissolution of the marriage.  The court encourages shared parenting rights and responsibilities, as long as long as they are not be detrimental to the child. 

Factors the Court Considers When Awarding Custody 

In considering custody, the court looks at the following factors:  

  • The relationship between the child and the parents
  • Geographic location of each parent  
  • The parent more likely to allow the child to frequently visit a non-residential parent
  • The financial ability of the parents
  • Where the child has resided the longest with a stable home environment
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Moral fitness of the parents 
  • Home, school and community record of the child
  • The child’s preference
  • Willingness of the parents to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Evidence of either parent giving false information to the court
  • Evidence of domestic violence or abuse by one parent
  • Other factors the court deems relevant

Court awarded shared custody does not preclude the court ordering a separate award for child support.

Parenting Plan

Under the child custody laws in Florida, the court must approve the parenting plan.  The plan must reflect how each parent will share the responsibilities of the daily upbringing of the minor child, including how much time will be spent with each parent, who is responsible for health care, school matters, activities and cell phones or other communication technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.  In evaluating the plan, the best interests of the child will be taken into consideration by the court.  Parents are expected to facilitate and encourage the child to have a close relationship with the other parent.  

Modifications to Child Custody

Modifications to child custody awards may be requested by either parent by filing a motion and requesting a hearing. The court will here the testimony of both parents. The modification will be considered if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parent requesting the change such as a job loss, change in working hours, illness, disability or job relocation to another city.   

Speak to an Attorney 

Child custody laws in Florida are complicated.  If you are involved in a Florida child custody, visitation or child support matter, you should seek the help of a family law and divorce attorney.  The attorney is an expert at child custody and divorce matters, and can answer any questions you may have.  The attorney can represent you in court.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
click here to have an attorney review your case .
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